Saturday opens the spring evaluation period for college coaches and with games starting at 8 a.m. at the Real Deal on the Hill, they will be out early and ready to see and be seen. A number of them will be on the sidelines to see Georgia big man J.J. Hickson.
Just how many coaches will be there?
"At least 30," says Desmond Eastmond, Hickson's AAU coach with the Worldwide Renegades. "And that's not even joking.
"I've talked to everyone. The entire ACC, the entire SEC, the Big East, everyone."
Outside of the strong ACC and SEC contingency, Eastman said Connecticut, Syracuse, Ohio State, Missouri, Illinois and Arizona all expressed that they will be at the Saturday morning Worldwide game and Tampa Fastbreak at the Fayetteville Boys and Girls club.
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward from Wheeler High School in Marietta, Ga., had a big junior season. He shined at the national tournaments and played a key role in Wheeler's Final Four run in the 5A state playoffs.
"I know this is my last time on the AAU circuit. I want to go out there and treat each game like it is my last. I have a lot of work to do this month," Hickson said. "Not so much prove myself to the coaches but prove to myself that I am one of the top players in the country and that I can play right away at the next level."
The coaches are coming. Hickson wants to have the high-majors something to talk about all day Saturday.
"I hope they come and see how much I've improved. I'll give 'em one heck of a show," Hickson said. "But you gotta understand it's not just me. We have a really good team."
Hickson isn't kidding. The Renegades are not short on talent, boasting a roster of future Michigan State guard Chris Allen and a host of other Division 1 prospects.
The next three weeks could prove to be pivotal in Hickson's recruitment, says Eastmond.
"This month is critical for him," Eastmond said. "It's his first opportunity to let the coaches come out and see him and our other kids play. It's going to be a chance for J.J. to see who he is the focal point with."
Hickson said he won't pay too much attention to who is on the sidelines taking mental notes but eyes will be watching the watchers. That could play a big role in the final decision. In fact, Eastmond said Hickson's expansive list could be shrinking shortly.
"After the three big tournaments, this one, Kingwood and the King James tournament, he should have a top 10 list. Maybe even a top five list," Eastmond said. "He doesn't want to waste anyone's time. He'll sit down with his grandmother and those that will help him with his decision and come up with who he'll narrow it down to."